In what would commonly be the best game of the entire weekend, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints faced off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for Sunday Night Football, putting two top-flight NFC teams against each other. Both teams were missing their top receivers, as the Saints were down Michael Thomas, while Green Bay was missing Davante Adams at the top of their WR depth chart.
In the end, Green Bay was able to hang on down in New Orleans, 37-30. Rodgers put up 283 yards and 3 TDs, WR Allen Lazard went bonkers with 6/146/1, and the TE group (Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger, Marcedes Lewis) combined for nine targets and 104 total receiving yards.
Green Bay was also missing their best run stopper in defensive tackle Kenny Clark, and that was quite evident from the beginning for how big of a loss that way, as Saints’ running backs, Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, shredded the front seven and essentially did whatever they wanted to.
The Packers had five offensive drives in the first half, and the Saints, who started the game with the ball, also touched the ball five times on offense in the first two quarters.
A quick, three-play drive gave the ball to GB for their first time, which they turned into a 10-play, over 5:30-long drive that ended in a Mason Crosby field goal. And thus began the shootout.
Saints received the kick and almost gave it right back, as they fumbled on the return but recovered. Four plays later, Kamara took an 11-yard pass from Drew Brees over the middle and dove into the end zone.
Another field goal by Green Bay cut the lead down to 7-6, and with the Saints punting on their next possession, the Packers were finally able to find the end zone, thanks to Lazard. The undrafted free agent hauled in a 48-yard pass from Rodgers, and then caught a five-yard TD pass to put Green Bay back on top.
Lutz put through a 45-yard field goal on the following drive, pushing the Saints back out in front, and with the Packers punting after the NO field goal, Emmanuel Sanders and Brees were finally able to connect on a touchdown, as the former Bronco and 49ers wide receiver caught a 10-yard TD right before half time.
Lazard and Kamara were the main offensive catalysts that helped pace each team this first half, and Kamara set a career-high with 117 all-purpose yards in the first half, the most that he has produced across his career.
The Packers started the second-half with the ball, and they were able to jump right back out into the lead, on the back of the Rodgers-Lazard connection.
On what certainly looked like a stagnant drive to open the half, Rodgers found Lazard for an absolute rainbow, and Lazard, who ended up running out of gas at the end of the run, reeled in and ran for a 72-yard catch, down to the NO 3.
After being stuffed on their first three attempts, the Packers took a gamble and went for it on fourth down, with Aaron Jones punching it in from a yard out.
Saints were forced to kick a field goal to tie the game at 20-all, as the Packers were able to hold serve after Kamara helped get them down into the red zone yet again.
Bully ball got the lead back for the Packers, as ‘Big Dog’ Marcedes Lewis fought off (legally, apparently too) a Saints DB to haul in an 18-yard pass from Rodgers for the score, which marks only the second career TD reception by a first-round pick on a pass from Rodgers.
Kamara continued to shred the GB defense, and his 52-yard TD catch and run was a thing of beauty for NO and a thing of sheer and utter disaster for GB. Missed tackles by what felt like the entire defense turned a pass that was out in the flat to a wild goose chase that saw Kamara take it to the house.
On the next drive, GB took a gamble and went for a fourth-down conversion at mid-field, something that (after review) saw them not convert, which gave the Saints the ball right at mid-field. Thankfully, two plays later the ball was given right back to the Packers, as Za’Darius Smith forced Taysom Hill to fumble after a read-option take.
Crosby knocked through a 49 yarder on the following drive, pushing Green Bay back into the lead, 30-27.
After forcing a punt by the Saints, Green Bay marched down the field and put the nail in the coffin on the arm of Rodgers, as he found Tonyan for a 1-yard TD on the bootleg. This score was aided by multiple defensive penalities by the Saints, including a defensive offsides (declined) and a few DPIs.
Saints took the field goal approach to put points up on the board after the two-minute warning, but a failed onside kick attempt gave the ball back to the Packers, where they kneeled out the game, bringing home the victory and sending them to 3-0, while the Saints are now 1-2.
For Green Bay, their stay on primetime television continues, as they continue their trek through the NFC South division as they host the struggling Atlanta Falcons, who have developed a penchant for choking away big-time leads in 2020.
Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones (if healthy) will come to town, and with it comes a big challenge for the GB defense, something that will be a huge factor in seeing how much longer DC Mike Pettine sticks around.
With how the ATL defense has struggled so far, Rodgers, Jones, and Adams (if healthy) should be able to cook for a good part of the game, hopefully not having this be a super close game.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23